friend + ship

I’m one of those people who believe that friendship is the best soil where love could grow. But then again, there’s the much dreaded friendzone. I grew up with a brother, a sister, and cousins who were all boys. That means wooden guns, trees, and a dislike for pink. I eventually had another brother and female cousins, but they had their own thing. Or perhaps they just grew up in the time of cable television and fancier computers.

Fast forward to college where I took up a course with a mostly male population and Christian communities where my male mentors outnumbered female ones. I went through both the dating and courtship cultures. I’ve had my fairytale beginning and civil ending.

I believed too much that love is a choice. I committed to someone who passed my standards but wasn’t my type. He was and might still be my most reliable friend. I chose someone I thought I couldn’t live without, not realizing I needed someone I could live with. I endured nonphysical abuse (except for that one time he crushed my hand in his) and retaliated in kind. I was suicidal at times. After the breakup, I went on a retreat and had counseling. I learned that what I was saddest about was failure rather than heartbreak.

Then I had to rebuild my faith in men (and their ability to be faithful) and reassess my standards. I keep having these conversations about relationships for some reason even though I am tempted to not give them any serious thought or to settle down by myself. I think it would be a challenge to unlearn my post-breakup independence, but I had to start somewhere. After much prodding, I joined a cell (a discipleship and care) group, committed to a local church, and welcomed an accountability partner. I will also be serving with church ministries soon. I purposely avoided leadership options because I wanted to stay in the background, but that will have to change (in the future) if I am to utilize my spiritual gifts and be obedient. I think respect for someone who is intent on building up the church would be my undoing. If I say more, I will only implicate myself.

I feel like I have too many friends for an introvert. I would blame it on having multiple circles and extroversion induced by leadership roles. But I find the term “friends” ambiguous. Perhaps it is not necessarily balanced. I once read that the Lord Jesus was a friend to many but only let a few become his friends. I can go boy-crazy at times, but it’s usually shallow or passing and becomes material for art. Only the ones who proved to be trust-worthy in times of vulnerability have had the power to hurt me.

Last weekend, while I was with a particular group of friends, I thought about how their brand of geeky God-loving gentlemen raises the bar. Sometimes it feels like the man of my standards doesn’t exist, but because they do, I have to tread carefully with the chances I give. What if I had two friends? What if I weren’t interested in either of them, but one grows in beauty as I consider his life in Christ? What if I weren’t hypothesizing? Some walls must rise and others fall. God help us all.

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